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Council Adopts 'Zero Net Energy' Requirement for New Santa Monica Homes

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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

October 31, 2016 -- In what municipals officials are saying is a move that has not happened anywhere else in the world, the City Council last week approved an ordinance requiring all single-family homes constructed in Santa Monica to achieve “zero net energy (ZNE).”

ZNE is an industry term describing a structure that generate enough of its own energy from renewable sources such as solar panels to equal the amount of energy the building uses.

“Santa Monica is proud to take a global lead in zero net energy building standards that put the State’s environmental policy to action,” said Mayor Tony Vazquez in a statement released after the meeting.

He added, “[The] council's adoption of this new ordinance reflects our city's continued commitment to the environment. ZNE construction, considered the gold standard for green buildings, is a major component that will help us reach our ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.”

The ordinance also requires that single-family homes and "low-rise" multi-family homes be designed to use 15 percent less energy than allowed in the most recent California Energy Code.

High-rise multi-family homes and non-residential projects must be designed to use 10 percent less energy than the code requires.

This ordinance was included in a complex series of items reviewed by the council involving building standards and green energy.

City Councilmember Ted Winterer noted the unique ordinance after the council heard an elaborate staff report that Councilmember Sue Himmelrich jokingly said she only half understood.

"I don’t usually get excited reading these building code reports," Winterer said, "but I did."

The ordinance will go into effect next year and puts Santa Monica three years ahead of the State, which in 2008 approved a plan for residential development projects to achieve ZNE by 2020.

State Assemblyman Richard Bloom, who was on the Santa Monica City Council for more than a decade, called the ordinance "forward thinking."

Santa Monica is often among the first cities to adopt various regulations considered environmentally friendly by those who make such declarations.

Earlier this year, Santa Monica became just the fourth city to mandate solar rooftops (“Santa Monica to Require Solar Rooftops on Buildings,” May 4, 2016).


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